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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Manchester City: European champions for the first time

Manchester City: European champions for the first time

Manchester City have won the Champions League for the first time, beating Inter Milan, and securing the Treble, thanks to Rodri’s goal.

It was the one trophy that has eluded the Premier League side ever since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour back in 2008, with only one previous final.

Mansour must have known that something special was going to happen in Istanbul on Saturday, as he attended only his second ever competitive City game.

Pep Guardiola learnt his mistakes from the final two years ago and started with a very strong team, although Kyle Walker did miss out but he’d only started three times in the competition during the campaign.

Despite being heavy favourites going into the game City certainly didn’t have it all their own way in the first half, as Inter closed them down from the front superbly.

It was Guardiola’s side who were dealt the first blow of the game as Kevin De Bruyne found himself coming off injured after just 36 minutes.

Neither side could break the deadlock before half time and whilst tactically intriguing it was far from a classic opening 45 minutes.

Just before the hour mark the City manager was left on all fours begging for a reprise from his team after a huge mistake from Manuel Akanji.

The defender left a back pass for Ederson and didn’t see Lautaro Martinez behind him, which allowed the Argentine to run into the box unattended.

He could have crossed into the box for Romelu Lukaku but chose to go for goal with defenders covering, fortunately for the English champions Ederson was off his line quickly to stop the effort.

They were made to pay less than 10 minutes later when Rodri made a mockery of history having been left on the bench in the final two years ago.

The midfielder got on the end of Bernardo Silva’s blocked cross to curl the ball around two defenders and into the bottom corner of the goal.

City were somewhat lucky that their lead remained as just two minutes after the goal Federico Dimarco hit the top of the crossbar from a header.

The ball came back out for the Inter fan to try a second time but he could only head against the back of Lukaku’s legs, with the header on target.

Millions of Manchester United fans would have been hoping for their former striker Lukaku to ultimately make the difference and he kind of did, but the wrong way.

The Belgian had a perfect chance to equalise late on but somehow headed back towards Ederson who saved the shot with his knee.

In the final seconds the Brazilian was key again as a late corner was headed goalwards by Dimarco but it was brilliantly saved and the final whistle blew almost instantly after.

It is only the second time an English team have won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in a season, emulating Man Utd’s achievement from 1999.

Guardiola won his second Treble and his first European title since his second success with Barcelona 12 years ago.

 

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